A couple of weeks ago, Katy wrote a great blog post on the importance of self care. The timing was…serendipitous to say the least. Self care is something I have been sorely lacking these last few months. Katy’s post was a call to action for me, a powerful reminder to prioritize my health. Yet I failed to take action. I told myself that once things calmed down a little bit, when I had more time, I’d implement some self care practices…
It’s a tough thing, coming face to face with your limitations. This summer was a keen reminder of a few important facts I had purposefully, and foolishly misplaced.
- Yes, you can work yourself into an early grave…or at least you’ll wish you were in a grave, because that means on some level you’re resting.
- You either make the time to care for yourself, or your body will TAKE the time to recover.
Alas, dealing with my incessant workaholism is going to require a priest, a rabbi, 3 nuns, a wizard, 2 engineers, and a ferret, and I frankly don’t have time, what with the final battle at job #3 looming ahead. So today, we are going to discuss fact number two.
“Make the time, or your body will take the time.”
I’ve spoken these words to nearly every client I’ve worked with in the last 3 years. Suffice to say, every single one of them has the right to send me a kind message reminding me to practice what I preach. When I say make the time, I’m not suggesting you drop everything and crawl face first into a week of hedonistic sitting. I’m reminding my clients that as you dig into your reserves of awesome to do big things, you have to make some time to refill your awesome, lest you run out. The nice thing is, the human body doesn’t require much. With just a few short interventions, you can maintain your high level of ass-kickery and see the job finished. But those interventions require discipline. They require sacrifice. They require time. Time that, you’ll argue day and night you don’t have…until, like a bully cashing in on your lunch money, your body TAKES the time, plus interest.
So there I was, desiring only to sleep, and unable to slumber, looking into the eyes of my limitations, my fragile human-ness, and I start thinking of my situation as if I were one of my clients. I lazily shuffle through the pain of injuries past and present, locate my errant journal, cringe at the date of my last entry, and set to work…
Some intense self beration later, I returned to another principle I had often offered as advice to clients and friends alike. Take care of yourself, that you may take care of others. I thought hard about the self care action items I had created in the past that yielded the greatest return on investment. I revisited Katy’s blog post on self care to craft a plan utilizing the guidelines she shared. What follows is by no means a comprehensive breakdown, but rather a summarization of the areas I felt needed the most attention.
- Morning Movement – I love moving first thing in the morning. Every time I’ve made it a priority I’ve found my focus, my intentions for the day, realized. Waking up and immediately setting to a short routine focused on preserving my physical durability is my own personal middle finger to the sands of time, and lately I had been slacking. I like core work and cars. Maybe you like yoga and coffee. I find the specifics to be irrelevant. I personally believe the intention to be of far greater consideration than the specific. It’s about making your first act of the day about YOU..about preserving your capacity to positively affect the world around you.
- Meditation – Ah stillness…my old nemesis. Many who are close to me know of my ever present struggle to lock this habit down. There is something uniquely special about taking a little time to focus. Like moving in the morning, I find the intention to be of far greater importance than the specifics. The intention of checking in with your VALUES is a very powerful tool in reaffirming the ‘why’ of your struggles. Irrespective of any personal revelations that occur as a by product of my meditation practice, I always feel closer to myself afterwards. Some part of my subconscious being breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that for all the struggle, there is purpose, and from that reaffirmation, comes strength.
- Resisting Distractions – There’s something uniquely cruel about distractions. How they steal away our time when we need it most. Tiny little snippets, minutes here and there…they add up. Our modern lives are built to distract us. Every phone notification a call to the dark side. So I thought long and hard about those moments when I couldn’t be distracted. The purity of a good ski run, the clarity of a challenging rock climbing pitch, the intentionality of heavy weightlifting. All moments when every fiber of my being was unified in purpose. And therein lies a tool. I kept facing my day without an objective, without intention. And so distractions cloud my vision, for there is no singular point of focus. So, every day, I’ve decided to choose an intention to focus on. Now, when life offers a brief moment of reprieve from the present, I’m not thinking about checking my phone…I’m thinking about closing in on my intention for the day. Wouldn’t ya know it, my to do list is already starting to shrink.
I have the good fortune of possessing a vast pool of knowledge when it comes to the physical elements of self care. From optimal nutrition to injury mitigation, I have a plethora of tools that have been keeping me in the game long after I should have dropped out. But without intention, those tools were half hearted attempts at plugging bullet holes with band aids. By making a small amount of time to focus on ME, with intention, I’m keeping my awesome reserves stocked.
There are times in life where dropping your stressors, or um responsibilities, isn’t an option. Sometimes its pride, or your family, or your business, or your values, but for whatever reason, we all know those situations where in life piles on the bullshit, and there is no choice but to grab a bigger shovel and get back to work. The human body is a wondrous machine, capable of far more than we could ever imagine. But there are limits, and if you don’t respect them, there are consequences. I challenge ye hard working folk to make some time for yourself. Don’t wait around for the inevitable ass kicking (trust me, its not fun.) Find the self care tools that keep you in game. Implement them with intention. I think you’ll find that the more you protect your awesome, the more you’ll have to share with the world around you.
Michael "Joe" O'Leary, CPT
Community Wellness Coach
USAW Sports Performance Coach - USAW
Certified Personal Trainer – ISSA
CrossFit Level One - CrossFit
FRC Mobility Specialist - Functional Anatomy Seminars
Certified Youth Trainer – ISSA
Specialist in Fitness Nutrition – ISSA
Senior Fitness Specialist – ISSA
Exercise Therapy Specialist – ISSA
Specialist in Strength & Conditioning – ISSA
MovNat Certified Trainer, Level 1, Level 2, & Combatives - MovNat
Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach - BioForce HRV
Primal Health Coach - Primal Blueprint
Joe is originally from Ely, Nevada but grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming. He found his way to Laramie for two reasons, to complete a Pre-Med Physiology degree at the University of Wyoming, and to climb. Joe has an Associate's Degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Personal Training and is working toward his B.S. in Human Physiology. He plans to further his education by "crushing the MCATS" then attending medical school in Seattle, Washington through the WWAMI program. Joe is a highly trained coach with diverse certifications such as; ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Exercise Therapy Specialist, Certified Youth Trainer, and Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is also a USAW Sports Performance Coach (level 1), FRC Mobility Specialist, MovNat Certified Trainer (level 1, level 2, and combatives), CrossFit Level One coach, and Primal Health Coach. Joe has many notable achievements related to his coaching background and hobbies. He served as USAW Marshal for the American Open in 2015, the largest American weightlifting meet in history, as well as successfully integrated a strength training program into a Multiple Sclerosis treatment regime. Additionally, he has summited Gannett Peak, Mt. Elbert, and Mt. St. Helens. Obviously, in his free time Joe enjoys rock climbing, backpacking and mountaineering, but he also enjoys, snowboarding, Parkour, and archery. In the future he plans to; summit every 14er in Colorado, climb every pitch at Vedauwoo, summit every peak in the High Cascades, Practice medicine in Laramie or Jackson Hole, summit Denali, backpack South America, summit K2, and die happy. Joe is excited to be a part of the Altitude Fitness team because he "always relishes the opportunity to work with Wyoming athletes. Add to that, Altitude Fitness is one of the nicest facilities open to the general population in the country and I consider it a privilege to be offered the opportunity to coach here."